Depression is a nasty thing. It is a life-limiting condition, because even at mild levels, it prevents you from enjoying life to the full. But it can cause crippling worry and/or anxiety, and even lead to suicide. The good news however, is that no matter how bad your depression may be, you can absolutely escape from it. From personal experience, I know that the mind is a very powerful thing. It is so powerful that it can cripple you mentally – if you let it. Let’s get one thing clear – I am no psychiatrist. But I have suffered with depression and anxiety on and off for about 50 years, which I consider qualifies me to at least talk about it. I said depression can cripple you if you let it, knowing full well that it is not a choice for most people. When your mind decides to go into depression mode, there doesn’t seem much that you can do about it. But there is!
You should first of all understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Depression is a massive problem, endured by a very large number of people in the UK. in 2009, MIND (The mental health charity) reported that nearly ten people in every hundred were suffering with anxiety and depression:
There are around 65 million people in the UK, so that works out at six and a half million people in the UK alone, suffering with anxiety and depression. and that figure does not include people with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), phobias or eating disorders! Extrapolate this to a global level, and you begin to get an idea of precisely why you are not suffering alone.
Unfortunately, there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness: Because you can’t see any physical symptoms, it can’t be that much of a problem. But thanks to organisations like MIND, that perception is being changed and there is a better acceptance, both socially and in the workplace of the crippling effects that mental illness can have on a person.
First off, if you feel you are not as chirpy as you should be, talk to your GP who will recommend a course of action involving, medication, counselling, or both, depending on the severity of your symptoms. I’d like to add here that when I first approached my GP about depression, it was like a massive admission that I had failed. That I was incapable of dealing with it myself. And it hurt my pride. But I am kicking myself now for not doing that years ago. I thought I would be scoffed at – you know the kind of thing, “You need to get a grip”, or “snap out of it”. But that was certainly not the case. My GP was very sympathetic and understood to a very large degree how it was affecting me, due no doubt to the large number of people with similar problems.
So make an appointment and get to see a GP!
Secondly, there are some things you can do to help yourself. These worked well for me, but I understand that we are all individuals and what works for one may not work so well for another.
- Keep busy. If you are at home, do some housework, go for a walk, do some shopping, do some gardening, play a video game, play some uplifting music. Anything to occupy your mind will steer you away from that black pit of depression. Go somewhere that you can meet and talk with people – drop-in centres are always holding coffee mornings and the like where you can go and meet people without being scowled at. In fact the simple act of talking to someone else, be it a partner, friend or colleague can have a very positive effect. But don’t let the conversation degenerate into self-pity. Keep it light!
- Take some exercise. Walking, cycling, running, jogging, swimming – it doesn’t matter. Exercise is a great natural anti-depressant!
- Avoid alcohol as much as you can. It may give a temporary escape, but in the long term just remember that alcohol is itself a depressant, and is not going to help one tiny bit in the longer term.
- If you are at work, – keep busy! Get stuck into whatever tasks are your reponsibility and don’t give your mind a chance to start doing it’s bad thing. And your boss will certainly appreciate you more than if you sit there moping!
- Grab your computer or tablet or whatever and get onto YouTube. Plug in some earphones – (mind the volume!) and check out some meditation videos. They are very relaxing and can help enormously to reduce anxiety, especially at bedtime. Just search YouTube for ‘Meditation’ or ‘stress relief’!
- Get a dog – if your lifestyle is compatible. A dog will need a lot of attention, cost money to feed and maintain (vaccinations, Vet bills, etc), and must not be left alone for more than a few hours at a stretch. However, the comfort, love and friendship you will get in return cannot be easily described with just words. You can find out which breed is right for you on the Kennel Club website:
I hope this is all helpful. As i said earlier, I am not a psychiatrist, just a fellow sufferer. However, by doing the stuff on this post, I am now in a much better place and starting to really enjoy life again.